What to Expect During Proton Therapy
During the consultation, the doctor will give you information on proton therapy, and determine whether it is the best option for treating your specific type of cancer.
If you are a candidate for proton therapy, you will go through the same process as any other external beam treatment:
Step 1: Setup Visit
A setup visit will be scheduled to begin the proton therapy treatment process. At the setup visit, you will be fitted for a custom face mask or body mold, based on the site that will be treated. The mask or body mold is used to keep you in the exact same position for each proton therapy treatment session. The process is simple and painless. You may also have a computed tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) done. The setup visit can take up to two hours.
Step 2: Treatment Planning
Your radiation doctor will use the scans from your setup visit to plan your proton therapy treatment. The plan will include the radiation dose, direction (where the beams enter the body) and number of proton beams sent to the tumor at each session. The planning process takes two to three weeks. Once your treatment plan is ready, we will schedule your treatment sessions.
Step 3: Practice Session
Prior to the first treatment session, we conduct a “practice run” to make sure the treatment plan, set up and positioning are correct.
During the practice run, you will be fitted with your custom mask or body mold as you lay on the treatment table. The radiation therapy technician will carefully move you in various treatment positions and take images. The practice run can take up to 90 minutes. A radiation treatment is not given during this session.
Step 4: Treatment
Most patients start treatment the day after the practice run. Pediatric patients receiving sedation will have their practice run on the same day as their first treatment session.
Proton therapy treatment sessions are most often scheduled daily, Monday through Friday. Each visit may take an hour or more. The treatment period can last up to eight weeks, depending on the type of cancer and area of the body being treated.
Like all forms of radiation therapy, proton treatment is invisible. Your radiation therapist will monitor you at all times during treatment sessions. After your daily treatment session is done, you can resume your normal activities.
Step 5: Follow-Up Care
Your UH Proton Therapy Center doctor will meet with you to discuss post-treatment care, including follow-up visits and necessary blood work, imaging or other tests.
Follow-up visits are important to keep track of the tumor or lesion that was treated.
To contact the UH Proton Therapy Center, call 216-286-7768.